Milton Erickson

‘Ericksonian’ hypnotherapists will tend to rely upon suggestion therapy.

Their work is based upon the therapy techniques of Dr Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist, who used ingenious word patterns in order to overcome client resistance and effect change.

Milton Erickson, who contracted Polio in his late teens, developed self-hypnosis techniques to help him deal with both the physical and emotional trauma of the almost total paralysis he suffered.

During this time, he studied, minutely, the body language and speech patterns of those around him, becoming an expert in both verbal and non-verbal communication. Later in life, he used self-hypnosis to alleviate the intense pain of post-polio syndrome.

In addition, in order to re-learn the skill of walking, he intently watched his little sister, as she learned to walk for the first time. As a result, he became adept at modelling, a basic tool of N.L.P.

Erickson was a major influence in the development of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (N.L.P.), and his work formed the basis for both solution-focused therapy and brief therapy.

The downside of Ericksonian therapy, is that Milton Erickson was a genius… which is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. This is why Ericksonian hypnotherapists tend to rely on scripts for specific problems, often preferring to use many words, when a few would have done nicely. Erickson never used scripts in his work; he made it up as he went along.

Even N.L.P. is loaded with jargon, while purporting to be a model for effective communication. What has evolved, is a complex, cumbersome, and ineffective version of Erickson’s elegant form of therapy, which continues to be taught today.